The Science of Intelligent Achievement Summary

The science of intelligent Achievement shows you how smart people focus, create and grow their way to success

About the Author Isaiah Hankel

  • Isaiah Hankel received his doctorate in Anatomy and Cell Biology and is an
  • Expert on mental focus, behavioral psychology, and career development.
  • His work has been featured in The Guardian, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur Magazine.
  • Isaiah’s previous book, Black Hole Focus, was published by Wiley, and was selected as Business Book
  • of the Month in the U.K., and became a business bestseller internationally.
  • Isaiah has delivered corporate presentations to over
  • 20,000 people, including over 300 workshops and keynotes worldwide in the past five years.
  • Isaiah is the founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist, a career training company that specializes in helping PhDs transition into corporate careers


Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.

Achievement is about value. It’s about attaining value through effort and skill.

The question is, what do you currently value?

What are you working to attain?

Intelligent Achievement comes from within you. It’s a collection of values that are aligned with who you are

Part 1 Selective Focus

Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance is not laziness.

Selectivity is the gateway to productivity.

1 Why Mental Energy is Your Most Valuable Asset

Without it, you won’t have the enthusiasm, motivation, drive, and

physical energy to live a full life rich in all of those things listed above.

you only get about 90–120 minutes of peak mental energy and five hours or less of “near” peak mental energy each day.

Learn to feel a sense of success when you say “no,” rather than a sense of failure.

Most importantly, learn to keep all gossip and meaningless drama out of your life.

The solution is simple—stop burning through your mental energy on emotional drama.

The key to doing this is to learn to walk away from energy draining people.

Surround Yourself With Mental Energizers

Find people who energize you and keep you on track towards your goals.

Then, hold onto them.

2 How Busyness Leads to Burnout and Manipulation

Busyness drains mental energy and prevents mastery.

Elite performers deliberately practice three times longer than average performers.

It’s how you practice that matters, not how long.

Elite performers spent more time in deliberate practice but only worked an average of 3.5 hours a day.

Selectivity is the gateway to productivity—and productive people live long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Busy people who passively fill up their lives with distractions, on the other hand, live short, stressful, and exhausting lives.

Busy People Become Average

People who brag about being busy will always be average.

They will never accomplish anything great or leave a legacy behind them.

Things just happen to busy people.

Life just happens to them.

Busy People Are Followers, Not Leaders

Busyness is how others control you.

Busyness is how others get you to conform.

Why Busy People are Easily Manipulated ?

When you are busy, it’s easy for other people to make you feel like you only have one choice: theirs.

3 The Infection Known as “Other People’s Opinions”

You Know What’s Best For You

Other people’s opinions are like viruses.

They infect you.

No matter who you are or how strong you may be, other people affect your emotions and behavior.

Every positive person you let into your life

increases your chances of being positive by 11 percent,

but every negative person you let into your life doubles your chances of becoming negative

You Are Biologically Wired to Copy Others

The problem is that you’ve been conditioned to value other people’s opinions more than your own.

You’ve been trained to want to be like other people, to think like them

People who are lied to are more likely to lie and cheat

Negative Opinions Can Rot Your Brain

The first step to having a breakthrough in life is to start ignoring other people’s opinions.

You might think that allowing negative people to “vent” at you or trying to make them feel better is virtuous.

But, in the end, it does not make you a better person. Instead, it reduces your mental energy levels and hurts your performance.

one negative friend doubles your chances of becoming unhappy.

Listening to a negative person for just 30 minutes

peels away neurons in your hippocampus,

the part of your brain that’s responsible for problem solving.

4 How Small‐Minded People Block Big Goals

Other people can play a determining role in the path your life takes.

The Power of Suggestion

Golfers make more successful putts when they are told that a golf ball is lucky,

Participants solve motor‐dexterity puzzles better when

experimenters make a “good luck” hand gesture

Your Brain’s Herd Mentality

Suggestions from other people are powerful because they tap into your desire to fit in.

The Liberating Power of Defiance

  • Subtle suggestions from other people affect your behavior.
  • They can positively change your behavior. But, if you’re not careful,
  • The power of suggestion can also negatively change your behavior.
  • All it took was one person to disagree with the majority to free someone else from their desire to fit in

5 Scientific Proof That 50% of Your Friendships are Fake

Some people don’t want you to be successful.

Even some of your so‐called friends or colleagues don’t want you to get ahead.

only 50% of your friendships are reciprocal.

The rest of your friendships are one‐sided or fake.

Some of your “best” friends are fake

Having genuine friendships that are positive makes you better at what you do.

Why Fake Friendships are Irrational

You cannot deserve something you have not earned, including friendship.

Signs You Are Stuck in a Fake Friendship

You must guard yourself against feeling like you owe other people things just because they care about you.

Otherwise, these people will take advantage of you by playing the victim.

The second sign is when someone expects you to take their feelings into account for every decision you make about your own life.

The third sign you are stuck in a fake friendship is when someone asks you for a handout and expects you to pretend that they earned it.

6 How to Deal With Negative People Without

Becoming Negative

If you’ve already let negative people into your life, cut them out.

If you can’t cut them out, use them to your advantage.

The Fog Technique Versus the Investment Technique

Without a defined target to attack, negative people can’t hurt you.

So, the best way to deal with them is to conceal your goals. By doing this, you prevent them from working against you in the future.

if a negative person is effectively damaging your reputation online, you could hire them for their onlinepromotional skills.

Likewise, if a negative person is stealing your biggest clients, you could buy them out or strike up a partnership.

Negativity Versus the Void

By walking away, avoiding someone or something completely,

or quitting a bad habit or bad person by going cold turkey, you leverage

the void and protect your most valuable resource—your mental energy.

7 Why You Need to Go on a Relationship Fast

By choosing to be very selective with who I allowed in my life, my life opened up in front of me.

You Have to Say Goodbye First

That’s the first step: remove the wrong people from your life.

The second step is to spend some time alone working on yourself.

In other words, you need to go on a relationship fast.

A relationship fast should last at least a week and no more than a year.

start asking the tough questions that most people avoid.

What are your real priorities in life?

If money were no object, how would you spend your time?

What do you want to achieve before you die?

What makes you genuinely happy?

Until you know the answers to these questions, you’re not an individual.

Instead, you’re just a composite of other people’s hopes and dreams.

Why Your Entire Life is Your Fault

As harsh as it sounds, everything bad that’s ever happened to you is your responsibility.

Bad things happen for no reason.

Bad people do bad things.

These things are not your fault.

But how you handle them is on you.

8 Automaticity, Scaling, and the Rise of Mental Loops

Success relies on scalability, which relies on systems, or loops.

Successful people are normal people who have learned how to scale themselves really well.

You can’t scale without a system.

willpower is a limiting resource

willpower depletes mental energy as it’s used, which leads to making bad decisions.

9 Tracking Emotions and Predicting Feelings

Focus is the biggest differentiator between massively successful people and those who just eke their way through life.

First, you must track your mental energy levels, or when your attention is sharp versus when it is dull and distracted.

Second, you must track your emotions, or when you are happiest, on average, throughout the day

Emotional Predictions Protect Against Emotional Decisions

By tracking our energy and emotions, you can leverage them to your advantage.

You can organize your day so that everything you do aligns with your mental energy levels and emotional states.

10 How to Label and Close Your Brain’s Open Loops

If something you’ve started doesn’t get completed, you will experience cognitive dissonance,

which is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

This dissonance will distract you, deplete your mental energy, and reduce your Performance

How the Zeigarnik Effect Affects Your Energy and Emotions

Unresolved issues can dramatically affect not only your energy levels and emotions,

but your overall health and well‐being as well.

How to Start Closing Off Your Brain’s Open Loops

Gathering is the first step. Gathering makes elimination possible.

You must first identify and gather together all the open loops that are currently

draining your mental energy levels and dysregulating your emotions.

from handwritten notes to emails and receipts, to the dirty laundry in the hamper and the

dirty dishes in the sink, to the vacation you’ve always wanted to take, what college your kids will go to,

the argument you had last night with your spouse, the traumatic health diagnosis you had five years ago and never recovered from, on and on.

11 Keep it and Clarify it, or Delete it From Your Life Completely

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

The only thing worse than being too lazy is being too busy.

Productive people focus on effectiveness and doing the minimum amount possible to achieve the maximum effect.

Actively Delete Your Open Loops, Don’t Just Passively “Let Go”

Not everything on your list was meant to stay in your life.

You will need to delete some things.

That may include goals, ideas, projects, and even people that are no longer right for you.

delete it (only if you’re sure it will never come into your mind again) or

put it on one of two new folders: a Someday folder or a Source folder

These three folders—Actionable, Someday, and Source—are best kept

12 Where Millennials and Baby Boomers Meet

Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.

it will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.

Experiences That Create Equity and Wealth

The first step is to start filling your life with experiences that create

equity for you and, as a result, generate more ownership for you

Start investing in experiences that expand your knowledge base, grow your network, and increase your abilities.

13 “Entre‐Employee” and Temp‐Employee are the Only Career Options Left

You can build up your business while you’re at your current job and then jump ship once your business is self‐sustaining.

You can make a personal project profitable and then cut a deal with your employer so that both they and you benefit from it.

14 Content Marketing Is Creative Ownership

Content is king

content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and

distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain the attention of an audience.

15 Leveraging Walt Disney’s Secret System of Creativity

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

Start blogging, you’ll want to practice telling stories, summarizing, and forming opinions

Star Video blogging, aim to make your videos only 30–90 seconds.

16 Finding Your Voice and Letting the Right Audience Pick You

The fastest and most effective way to penetrate a market is to target a very small “sharp” niche first, and then grow outward.

17 Why a Good Story Will Make You More Money Than a Great Product

The story is what’s going to get people excited.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re based or how much money you may have,

A good story will give a big voice to even the smallest venture.

This is why you must invest time developing and mastering your approach to storytelling.

The only way to differentiate yourself is to tell your story.

Be the hero of your story—but do it with humility.

Every story has a protagonist, a hero. In your stories, that hero is you,

but you’re not an arrogant hero. Instead, you’re the humble warrior

Realize that no one wants to read a story about perfection.

No one cares about how great you are or how great you’ve always been.

Instead, they want to hear about your problems.

They want to know what you’ve overcome in the past and what you’ve learned in the process.

18 The Magic of Turning Your Message into a Magnet

Not adding value is the same as taking it away.

The most important part of building up a strong virtual Rolodex is collecting other people’s contact information and giving value to them in return.

19 How to Build up Your Virtual Rolodex

The only way to make your virtual Rolodex grow is to capture leads, and

the best way to capture leads is with lead capture boxes and pages, collectively referred to as lead capture “forms.”

20 Developing and Automating a Message‐Driven Content

With your lists in place, you can now start sending your first email marketing campaigns.

Email marketing is how all of your content marketing efforts will finally become actualized.

21 Turning Your Message into a Minimum Viable Product

MVPs have a high return on investment versus risk because instead of

investing everything in the product and then testing it in the market,

you’ve invested just enough—the absolute “minimum”—

to make the product “viable” in the market.

In other words, you’ve made the product just functional enough to survive testing.

22 What Happens When Your MVP Meets Your Market?

Once you’ve developed your MVP, you need to market it, sell it, and deliver it to your potential customers.

The process of bringing your MVP to your market is referred to as launching your product.

23 The Addiction of Vanity Analytics and How to Really Use Social Media

Social media marketing is not creative ownership.

No matter how many Facebook or Twitter followers you have, they will never be your followers.

They will only ever be Facebook and Twitter’s followers.

If either platform decided to delete your account, your followers disappear.

This is not ownership.

Social Media is a Means of Brand Awareness and Brand Protection Only

24 The Laws of Convergence, Replication, and Accelerated Returns

The only way to continue to scale and stay ahead of the competition is to repackage your best content.

Part 3 Pragmatic Growth

25 Turning Pain into Productivity Through Pragmatism

Your brain has a negativity bias—it has a preference for negative information over positive information.

This is why you will remember forever the one negative comment your boss made during your performance review,

but will instantly forget the fifteen positive comments he made before and after.

Whining attracts whiny people.

26 One Non‐Negotiable is Worth a Thousand To‐Dos

To‐do lists dismantle productivity. Learning to say “no,”

on the other hand, protects productivity. Saying “no” also helps you prioritize.

27 The Real Theory of Relativity and the Law of Relaxed Productivity

No matter what you’re trying to achieve, the only three things that you can

always count on to improve your performance are your mood, focus, and motivation.

The key to being productive and relaxed at the same time is to be as effective and efficient as possible at the same time

28 Avoiding Drama, FOMO, and “Blind Spot Ignorance”

Why is drama so alluring?

The reason is because drama makes people feel important.

Only people with small, insignificant goals are drawn to drama.


Something that matters! Something I can solve!

Someone I can save!

Feeling like you’re about to miss out on something is too painful for most people—

so much so that pop culture has dubbed this pain as FOMO, or

the fear‐of‐missing‐out

Start building up a resistance against it by practicing saying “no” to initial offers.

29 Preventing the Deadly Eight Productivity Pitfalls

Productivity is not just about doing more. It is about creating more impact with less work

1. Accepting free handouts

2. Having a variable morning routine

3. Putting small priorities first

4. Avoiding difficult but important tasks

5. Following the eight‐hour work day

6. Checking their phone constantly

7. Replying to emails immediately

8. Overcommitting to favors

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The law of reciprocity prevents it.

Unproductive people change their minds often.

Unproductive people struggle to keep any kind of schedule.

Unproductive people are also horrible at prioritization

What you spend the most mental energy on is your top priority.

Spend time on whatever your top career and life priorities are first thing in the morning.

Unproductive people always avoid the most difficult task of the day

your goal each day should be to work hard for five hours and then coast.

After the first five hours of the work day, your brain is running on about half of its mental energy

If you want to start being more productive,

you must start making people ask you for favors three times before accepting

30 Is Everyone a Narcissist Now?

quit seeking a confession of wrongdoing from the person who hurt you, or from anyone ever.

learn to expect less from other people and more from yourself

it’s going to hurt when you expect people to give you the world and they don’t deliver

Stop expecting others to fix whatever is broken in your life.

31 Seeing Through the Victim Illusion

When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you suffer a lot.

When you realize that everything springs only from yourself,

you will learn both peace and joy

You must guard yourself against playing the victim, and you must not allow others to play the victim with you

Have a zero tolerance policy for self‐pity.

32 How Decision Fatigue Reduces Willpower

Studies show that the average adult can make up to 35,000 decisions a day.

Each of these decisions takes time and energy.

Eventually, they start to pile up, weighing you down and locking you into place.

Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of deliberation.

33 Hacking and Stacking Mini‐Habits to Success

Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains

after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.

Once I started relying on habits, in particular, mini‐habits, to help me

follow through on my good decisions, my life dramatically changed for the better

Plans involve decisions. The more you plan, the weaker your mind becomes.

Action, on the other hand, will make your decisions for you.

34 Leveraging Boredom and Filling the Mental Void

Boredom in itself is not your enemy. In fact, boredom can make you more creative and adventurous.

Mobility is the key to happiness and success.

Mobility is the key to staying positive in negative situations.

The more mobile you are, the more vivacious you are, and the more passionate and creative you are.

Motion creates emotion. Start moving. Start exuding. Start injecting your words with energy. Start projecting vitality, charisma, and enthusiasm into everything you do.

Once you realize that boredom is a gift and once you recover your vitality, it’s time to start having more adventures

Experience requires three things to be adventurous

First, the experience must be remarkable—worth talking about.

Second, it must involve adversity or perceived risk.

Third and finally, it must bring about growth.

You must be a different person at the end of the experience.

Adventures, not possessions or praise, make people truly happy.


Here’s a list of ten things you can do to have an intelligent adventure right now:

Build a fort – Whether it’s a master bathroom, a walk‐in closet, a man cave, or the house of your dreams, building a fortress is an adventure worthy of your energy.

Have a feast – Scholars agree that feasting is an adventure that connects people in a deep, meaningful,and primal way.

Lead a tribe – Leadership is an adventure. leaders have a higher sense of control in their lives and, as a result, maintain lower levels of cortisol in their bodies, have fewer health scares, and live much longer than non‐leaders

Find a rival – Competition brings out the best in everyone involved.

Chase – we enjoy pursuing the objects of our desire just as much as we enjoy obtaining them.

Be chased – Being pursued is an adventure. But how do you make other people want you? Simple: want them to want you without needing them to want you.

Create something – The desire to create is a primal urge, and the act of creation is adventurous.

Get Unbalanced – The desire to create is a primal urge, and the act of creation is adventurous.

Sleep outside – Studies show that sleeping outdoors can restore healthy melatonin levels and repair circadian timing.

Go on a pilgrimage – In general, traveling to new places acts to expand your mind and change your perspective.

Scientific studies show that walking in the morning lowers stress and even relieves pain

You only have one opportunity to leave your mark.

You only have one moment to seize your destiny.

You can’t chase fake success and Intelligent Achievement at the same time.

You have to choose one or the other, and time is running out

Choose wisely.

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